How to Start a Shopify Store (Complete 7-Step Guide)
You want to know how to start a Shopify store, right? Well, there is no better option than Shopify for selling products online. If you are starting an e-commerce business you need an online storefront — and Shopify has you covered.
If you are interested in starting an online business and e-commerce is appealing to you, then Shopify is all you need to get up and running.
With Shopify you get access to a proven e-commerce platform — a sophisticated backend technology stack and pre-built themes designed to convert visitors into sales.
You also have access to the Shopify App store, consisting of applications built to improve your conversion rates and average order value. Tools that help you drive more sales and scale your e-commerce store’s growth.
All of this is provided for a small monthly fee. Basic Shopify starts at only $29 per month, with the standard Shopify plan running $79 per month. For those e-commerce stores that have a large staff and demands the most advanced features, there is a Advanced Shopify plan that runs $299 per month.
But there is no risk and no financial commitment to try Shopify — you can try Shopify for free, for 14-days — no credit card is required.
Shopify is a great e-commerce platform for beginners to the most advanced e-commerce marketers. It allows anyone to start and launch an online store with minimal setup and configuration, while also giving endless customization ability for those that require it.
Shopify is such a trusted platform that some of the largest e-commerce brands in the world use it to run off, including Kylie Cosmetics, the billion-dollar cosmetics brand founded by Kylie Jenner.
There is a huge opportunity online, as traditional retail stores are closing at an alarming rate and many of the large retail mega stores are closing their doors because they simply cannot compete with the prices and convenience offered by Amazon.
This has allowed many brands to disrupt competitive industries that were once dominated by large brands. From health and beauty to supplements and lifestyle brands — there is an opportunity right now to command a piece of the market.
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There are other options for e-commerce — Shopify isn’t the only choice — but it’s the easiest and most effective. I wouldn’t suggest an entrepreneur builds on a platform other than Shopify.
With such an interest in how to start a Shopify store, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a simple to follow guide that explains the steps required to start a Shopify store.
You can be up and running in less than 30-minutes total if you follow the simple instructions explained below. They show you step-by-step how to start a Shopify store.
You can also get up and running with no out of pocket expense by taking advantage of Shopify’s free 14-day trial. You don’t even have to enter your credit card billing details.
Look at Shopify’s usage statistics from BuiltWith. There are more than 1.1 million live websites using Shopify. In the United States alone there is more than 820,000 websites running on the Shopify platform.
Shopify’s statistics are very impressive. They didn’t achieve those usage numbers by chance. They simply offer the best e-commerce platform available.
Ask any new brand what their launch plan involves and it’s sure to include Shopify as their e-commerce platform.
How to Start a Shopify Store: Easy Step-by-Step Tutorial
When you are starting an e-commerce business you want to be able to eliminate unnecessary costs. Using Shopify allows you to avoid hiring an expensive website designer and developer.
You can get a professional online store up and running with no technical knowledge or experience.
Just like with any platform, there are advantages and disadvantages. Shopify is no different. Let’s quickly go over those below before we jump into the store setup guide.
Benefits of Shopify as Your E-Commerce Platform
There are three major benefits of using Shopify as your e-commerce platform, especially for those that don’t have a full-time developer and/or IT department.
- Shopify handles the website hosting. As your traffic increases the backend handles server-scaling. This comes in handy especially during holiday traffic spikes, like during Black Friday, for example.
- Shopify’s platform keeps track of all your customer information, order details, payments, etc. This allows you to focus on marketing and growing your brand.
- The Shopify App Store gibes you access to applications you can install that are designed to help your store convert more sales and generate more revenue. There are endless integrations as well, allowing you to connect your favorite tools and software to your Shopify store.
Disadvantages of Using Shopify
There is one main disadvantage that we need to address to be completely transparent.
- You don’t have full control over the backend like you would if you were running a self-hosted e-commerce website built with different software, like WooCommerce (WordPress) for example.
Why Choose Shopify for Your E-Commerce Store?
If you do want full control over the hosting and all files on the server, then you are going to have to build a WordPress-based site and use WooCommerce as your e-commerce platform.
It’s not as easy to work with and there are some security concerns you need to be made aware of related to WordPress.
I have personally never heard of a Shopify store being hacked. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen — it’s just not a common occurrence.
What platform is hacked the most?
Take a look at the statistics below to see for yourself.
According to a report by Sucuri, WordPress is the number one hacked CMS, with 90 percent of all hacked content management systems (CMSs) the company investigated and helped fix in 2018 being built with WordPress.
Coming in at second, third and fourth were Magento (4.6 percent), Joomla (4.3 percent), and Drupal (3.7 percent). Shopify isn’t even mentioned, and that says a lot.
Security is something you have to take very seriously. This is just one of many reasons I recommend the platform to those looking to start an e-commerce brand.
How to Start a Shopify Store: The Complete 7-Step Guide
Are you read to learn how to start a Shopify store? By now you probably have confidence in the platform and you are ready to get started. Follow the severn steps outlined below to create your own Shopify e-commerce store.
1. Start a Free Shopify Trial
It doesn’t get any easier than this. Simply visit the Shopify homepage, enter your email address and then click on the “Strat free trial” submit button shown in the image below.
This instantly creates your Shopify account and starts your free 14-day trial.
You don’t have to enter any billing information or provide a credit card. You only need to enter your email address, create a password and select a name for your Shopify store.
Then, you will be take to the store account setup page.
The first input fields collect information about your e-commerce experience. They use this information to determine if you are an existing e-commerce business moving over to the Shopify platform or a brand new online merchant looking to find out how to start a Shopify store.
Then, you will enter your address, which will be used for the default business address, so make sure you use the address associated with your business and not your home address.
This address is what Shopify uses to calculate your payment currency and sales tax settings. Now, if you are running your e-commerce business from home it’s a good idea to rent a virtual mailbox to use as your business address.
This keeps everything separate and looks more professional as well.
Once you complete this step you will be taken to your Shopify admin dashboard.
2. Become Familiar with the Shopify Admin Dashboard
The Shopify admin dashboard is very simple and easy to navigate. The main navigation menu is located on the left side and there is a settings tab located in the lower lefthand corner.
The main menu gives you the following navigation options:
- Home: Your main overview is provided here and this is where you can access you theme and domain, as well as the customization options.
- Orders: Your store orders are shown here and this is the main area where you will manage and track all orders, past and present.
- Products: You manage everything related to your inventory here. You can add products, edit products, manage inventory levels, etc.
- Customers: All of your customer information is found here. You can view their sales history and contact information, and edit/delete it as needed.
- Analytics: Shopify analytics gives you all of the data related to your store’s performance. You can view data according to specific date ranges and also generate reports.
- Marketing: This allows you to sync your Facebook and Google Ads with your Shopify store, giving you access to your data within your Shopify admin dashboard.
- Discounts: Create discount codes for your loyal customers or create specific codes for marketing campaigns.
- Apps: You can access the Shopify App Store here, giving you the ability to find and install apps to build and customize your store’s functionality to match your needs.
Then you have your available sales channels:
- Online Store: The place where you can find all of your store’s settings, including checkout settings, personal info, shipping, taxes, and more.
Your online store is the only default sales channel, but you can easily add more, like: Point of Sale, Facebook Shop, Instagram, Amazon, eBay, Pay Button or Messenger.
In addition to the main navigation options, you can also click on the “Settings” tab in the bottom lefthand corner, which displays even more options.
Under “Settings” you will find:
- General: This is where you can update your store’s details, like address and contact information, at any time.
- Taxes: Configure how your store charges sales tax in your country and how it’s displayed during the checkout process.
- Sales channels: Manage the different sales channels you have set up to sell your products.
- Payment providers: Manage your current payment providers or add new ones here.
- Locations: This is where you manage your physical store location(s) as well as your shipping and fulfillment locations.
- Plan and permissions: Manage your current plan and the permissions users assigned staff roles have access to.
- Checkout: You have the ability to customize your checkout to create a process that works best for your store and customers.
- Notifications: Setup all of your notification preferences, for both you and your customers.
- Billing: Manage your billing settings for your Shopify plan.
- Shipping: This is where you set up and manage all of your shipping information, from carriers used to types of packages and their dimensions, weight and cost.
- Files: Upload and store files, images and video here.
3. Add Your First Product to Your Shopify Store
While on the “Home” page of the Shopify admin dashboard click on “Add product” to being the process of adding your first product to your store.
You can also click on “Products” in the lefthand menu to access the same function.
Now, for stores with hundreds or even thousands of products, Shopify does offer the ability to upload products via a .CSV file, but for the sake of this tutorial we will show you how to add them manually.
After clicking on the “Add product” button you will be prompted to add a product title, description and upload images.
You will want to enter a very detailed description, as this is what many search engines like Google will pull information from.
Put some time and thought into this and include some content in your descriptions that feature common search terms and keywords related to what a consumer might be typing into a Google search in order to find the particular product(s).
When it comes to images you need to make sure you use high resolution professional photos. Low quality images will make your store look untrustworthy.
When someone is on your website viewing a product and they hoover their mouse over the product image it will increase its size. A low quality image will display very poorly.
Put some time into your images. Most online shoppers are very visual. High quality product photos sell products, while low quality images act as customer repellant.
4. Configure Your Price and Inventory Settings
When setting up your price for each item there are three input fields available to you:
- Price: This is the actual price you want the item to sell for. This is before discount codes are applied. If someone lands on your store and wants to buy this particular item this is the cost.
- Compare at price: If you want to highlight that the item is on sale, you will want to enter a higher price in this field, which will be the “original” price shown. (Note: you can leave this field blank if you do not want to show the item is on sale)
- Cost per item: This is your cost, which helps you track profit and loss.
Shopify also offers inventory tracking, which comes in very handy.
To take advantage of this make sure to check the “Track quantity” option and select the number of units available.
You can also choose to continue selling the particular item when you are out of inventory or display a “out of stock” message, preventing the customer from making a purchase.
You can also enter the Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) and Barcode (ISBN, UPC, GTIN). This helps you find inventory faster when you are selling multiple products and variations.
It’s a good idea to use this type of inventory tracking from the start, even if you only have a few products. It’s much easier as you grow, rather than having to backtrack later on down the road.
Entering in accurate shipping details for each product will help ensure you charge correctly at checkout. One of the most important sections is the “Variants” option.
If you are selling different sizes or quantities of something that will often change the weight and size, which in turn changes the shipping cost.
After you complete all of the information for your product you will want to make sure you click the “Save product” button. You will want to review everything and make sure all of the information is correct before moving onto your next product.
5. Customize Your Shopify Store Theme
When you first setup your Shopify store you are using their default theme “Debut.” You can either customize this theme or select a new theme (there are both free and paid options available).
To customize the default theme click on the “Customize theme” button.
From here you can either stick with editing the default there or you can explore available free themes and paid options available in the Shopify Theme Store.
To continue editing the default theme click on the “Customize button.
You can now edit and change the layout using Shopify’s editor. It’s drag-and-drop, making it very easy to use. You don’t have to know code or have any programming skills.
The default theme is very basic and it offers a great layout to get started with. If you want to make a few slight changes to better suit your needs go for it.
If the default theme won’t work well for your needs, go back and click on the “Explore free themes” button. You will then be presented with several additional themes you can pick from and edit.
There are multiple options available with different layouts. Look for one that appeals to you and will serve as a good starting point.
If you want to explore all of the paid themes, go back and click on the “Visit Theme Store” button. There is a huge selection of professionally developed themes to pick from.
While they are not free, they are typically feature-packed and have a lot to offer.
If you select a new theme — either a different free theme or purchasing a theme from the Shopify store — it will be displayed under the default theme in your
Once you’ve added a new theme, it will be displayed in the Themes section, right below the default “Debut” theme.
To switch to your new theme (if you chose one) click on “Actions” and then “Publish.”
Now your Shopify store is using the new theme you have selected.
6. Connect a Domain to Your Shopify Store
When you initially setup your Shopify account it will assign your store a domain using their default URL:
You will want to buy a domain name and use that for your store instead, making your URL:
To do this, you will want to navigate to the main admin dashboard and click on the “Add domain” option, which then gives you the option to add a custom domain. You will then want to click on the “Add domain” button.
If you don’t already have a domain, you will want to do that by clicking here and registering a domain.
Once you have your domain you will want to click on “Connect existing domain” and then enter the domain name.
You will then need to connect your domain.
Click on the “View instructions” button to start the process of connecting the domain from your provider.
Once you complete that click on “Verify connection” to make sure it’s setup and configured correctly.
If it is, then you are now just one step away from launching your new Shopify store.
7. Configure Shopify Payments
You will need to setup your payment settings in order to receive the money generated from your store.
In the lower lefthand corner of the admin dashboard click on “Settings” and then click on the “Payment providers” option.
That will bring you to this page:
By default, Shopify Payments (which is through Stripe) and PayPal are configured. If you do not want to use PayPal you can click on “Deactivate PayPal Express Checkout” and that will remove it as an option.
If you do want to use PayPal as well, then you will need to setup a merchant account through PayPal. You also have the option to activate Amazon Pay with a single click.
You can also add additional payment options here. There is an in-depth list of third-party providers to select from, as well as alternative payment providers.
Checkout options such as Google Pay and Apple Pay are also available to help you appeal to a wider customer base and make the checkout process as seamless as possible.
How to Start a Shopify Store: Final Words
You now know how to start a Shopify store.
You can now create and launch and e-commerce business. You’re going to now want to select a Shopify plan. The 14-day free trial allows you to build your store and access the majority of the available features, but you will need to pick a plan before you can sell products.
For most new stores the $29 per month plan is a great option to start with. You can always upgrade as your online business grows.
Are you excited to start your first online business? What type of Shopify store are you going to build? Or have you already launched an e-commerce store? Let me know in the comments below!